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Lacing a drug is the act of adding one or more substance to another. In order to understand what additives drugs are laced with, it is important to fully grasp the notion that illegal street drugs are entirely unregulated. Meaning every illicit street drug that is sold, is developed and/ or altered by different manufacturers, and can be made of completely different ingredients. Furthermore, all information shared with consumers regarding the exact makeup of the drug with which they are purchasing is solely left to the discretion of each manufacturer. 

Often, drugs are sold based on their weight. There are a variety of additives manufacturers use to bulk up their product in order to enhance their profitability. There is no single ingredient that is used to lace every type of drug. Different ingredients, including synthetic, natural, and/ or organic additives can be used to lace different drugs. The most commonly laced street drugs include heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Some manufacturers will experiment with their formula in attempts to alter the effects of the drug they are producing by lacing it with another drug. This can be highly dangerous for consumers. Marijuana can be laced with other psychoactive drugs in order to yield different effects and/ or with other types of dried plant material so as to increase its weight and generate more profit. 

Bug and Rat Poisons

Insecticides and rodenticides are typically sold as an odorless white powder. For an illegal drug manufacturer, this makes them the perfect additive to drugs with a similar appearance, such as cocaine and/ or heroin because it increases the amount of powder they have to sell. The ingredients of insecticides and rodenticides are toxic poison. Depending on the amount of poison added, and frequency of consumer ingestion, this combination (long term ingestion of toxic poison) can be lethal. 

Laundry Detergent

Similar to bug and rat poison, some laundry detergents have the appearance of white powder. Some heroin and/ or cocaine manufacturers lace their product with laundry detergent, because the additional white powder bulks up their supply. Many laundry detergents contain acidic, phosphates, and alkaline substances that can cause severe physical side effects (i.e. vomiting, difficulty breathing, vision loss…etc.) when ingested.  


Levamisole is a medication used by veterinarians as an anti-parasitic to deworm livestock. It is a white powder that is used to lace cocaine. Again, by adding levamisole to cocaine, a manufacturer increases the amount of his or her product to sell. This medication is not intended for humans, and when ingested it attacks white blood cells. This, in turn, can weaken one’s immune system and increase one’s risk for contracting infections. 


One of the most damaging ingredients that illegal drug manufacturers use to lace drugs is formaldehyde. This is a toxic carcinogenic substance that is not intended for ingestion. Consuming formaldehyde results similarly to that of PCP, as it can produce feelings of rage, euphoria, panic, and hallucinations. Formaldehyde is most commonly used to lace Marijuana.

Other Drugs

In addition to the bizarre additives that some manufacturers lace their product with, other drugs are often used to lace substances. Medications such as Xanax, Fentanyl and anesthetics may be added to other drugs. Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication that works by suppressing the central nervous system. When marijuana is laced with Xanax it can lead to coma or death. Fentanyl is a dangerous synthetic opioid. It can cause respiratory distress, heart attacks, and death. Fentanyl has been found laced in heroin and cocaine. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.